April Boudreau, 61, a mom, wife, and grandmother, has successfully battled several serious health complications, overcoming Hodgkin’s lymphoma twice in the 80s and breast cancer in 2002. Because of her history of cancer, Boudreau is vigilant about receiving yearly CT scans.
When a scan in January revealed a nodule on her right lung, she feared the worst. “I never thought I’d fight the fourth time,” Boudreau said. “I’m like, ‘No, it’s too hard. I can’t do the chemo and radiation again. I’m expecting to die.'”
However, the Texas Health Fort Worth oncology team had another option to offer her, thanks to some advanced technology. First, doctors performed a robotic-assisted bronchoscopy to biopsy the nodule and confirmed that it was cancer.
Then, while Boudreau was still under anesthesia, the team performed a minimally-invasive robotic surgery to remove the cancerous tissue.
When she awoke after the procedure, Boudreau learned that she did have lung cancer, but the doctors had been able to remove it completely, and now she is cancer-free.
Richard Vigness, M.D., a thoracic cardiac surgeon at Texas Health Fort Worth, explained that robotic-assisted thoracic surgery allows the classic surgical approach for lung cancer to be done with very small incisions.
“The lung tissue containing the cancer is removed without the previously used large incision and the trauma of spreading the ribs associated with it,” Vigness said. “Often, patients can go home the following day after the operation.”
John Hollingsworth, M.D., a pulmonary disease specialist, explained the procedure results in a very low rate of complications and less anxiety for the patient.
Texas Health Fort Worth was one of the first hospitals in the state to adopt the accelerated approach of combining robotic-assisted bronchoscopy technology with robotic minimally-invasive surgery.
In Boudreau’s case, the surgery involved five tiny incisions on her side. She was able to leave the hospital the next day.
“I took pain pills for three days, and that’s all I needed,” Boudreau said. “Within three days later, I was just normal, walking around. I couldn’t believe it.”
About 236,000 lung cancer cases are diagnosed each year, making it the second-most common cancer. It is also the leading cause of cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.
Boudreau encouraged others to pay attention to their body’s warning signs, address concerns with their doctor, and take cancer screenings seriously.
“I was kind of a little bit out of breath, but I didn’t know (it was cancer). I just thought it was aging,” Boudreau related. “So, always listen to your body, and catch it in time, so that you can be cured and can live life.”